The Foresight Hospital and Health System in Stuart, (formerly Pioneer Community Hospital of Patrick County) is now on track to open the emergency department in the first quarter of 2023.
In his initial proposal, Dr. Sameer Suhail, president and CEO of Foresight Health, said he wanted to have the Emergency Department open and operational by the end of 2022. However, after hiring new consultants and discussing the timelines about the regulatory licensures and required documentations, the expected opening is 2023.
“Unfortunately, we are going to have to go into January, and possibly end of January. So, early first quarter of 2023,” he said.
Suhail said it is also important that Foresight is able to engage with the community.
“We came up with a plan and an agenda where we can actually come on a bi-monthly basis and engage with the community and engage with the officials,” he said.
Suhail said Foresight representatives also plan to hold town hall meetings to talk with residents and officials that would be supporting the company to get more feedback and input.
Foresight also hopes to meet with local fire and rescue departments, the local sheriff’s office, and Emergency Management Services (EMS) to get a greater understanding of the local challenges of providing healthcare in the community. The town halls are expected to start in August.
“It was very important to us to take our time,” Suhail said. “At the end of the day, it’s not just opening the doors. You have to make sure that everything is run adequately, everything is up to regulatory factors, you have accreditation, you have a lot of providers that will be coming in from other states that will be joining us, you have to make sure your transfer agreements are in the proper place.”
Chief Operating Officer (COO) and General Counsel Joseph Hylak-Reinholtz said Foresight’s plan and timeline includes four phases with phase one being the emergency department.
“We would be opening the emergency department and looking to staff five critical access beds, which we would phase up throughout the calendar year in 2023,” he said.
Hylak-Reinholtz said the kitchen, labs, imaging, and all the support services needed for that department also are included in the first phase
“Then we would move onto phase 1b because we’re looking to file a certificate of public need, a COPN application, to bring on some psychiatric services here at the hospital. So, we’re looking to do some psychiatric care,” he said.
In the longer term under phase two, Hylak-Reinholtz said Foresight plans to bring dialysis back to the community and expand the critical-access beds from five to 10 beds.
“We’ll see what makes sense at that time, with the ultimate goal phasing up to probably about 20 staffed critical-access beds,” he said.
Foresight will also look at introducing ambulatory infusion services, outpatient surgery, and the different categories of services that make sense to the area like orthopedic or gastro.
“It will also be contingent upon the relationships we make with local physicians and other physicians which we can relocate to this community,” he said.
Hylak-Reinholtz estimates it will be a two-year process before Foresight can get all of the complete operations it hopes to accomplish in the county, “but we’ll want to bring the most critically needed services first.”
For services the hospital will not be able to handle, Foresight will draft transfer agreements with nearby facilities that can handle the type of care necessary for patients.
Suhail added the company also may expand the property to add additions, with the company exploring medical education and creating a residency program for a rural-track, most likely for a family medicine or psychological health focus.
Suhail said he wants to have a focus on psychology because it is a primary issue that has reached epidemic level.
“Child psych, adolescent psych, is very important, so we really want to come in and try to add these services here,” he said.
Suhail said Foresight recently fenced off the property to start the process of asbestos removal.
“We’re going to meet the” local officials and get the “licensures and permits on the way in order for us to do some remodeling, and some upfitting of the property inside and outside,” he said.
He is hopeful that some of the permits are in place in the upcoming weeks so work can begin.
“We’re looking for people from the community to also engage. We don’t only want to bring people from Illinois or Chicago, we really want to benefit the community and have them take a place in the transition of this hospital,” he said.
Hylak-Reinholtz said two weeks after the company announced applications were accepted, more than 100 were received, including 65 specifically for nurses and Licensed practical nurses (LPNs).
“So, that was a very encouraging statistic that I’ve seen from our HR (Human Resources) people,” he said.
Suhail emphasized that Foresight is not Pioneer coming back and taking the wheel again.
“This is something that’s going to be more innovating, that’s more exciting for the community, that’s going to engage them with other service lines,” he said.
Because the company has not yet finalized scenarios and floor plans, the final cost has not been determined.
“Based on how we ultimately decide to execute, the cost will be varying,” Hylak-Reinholtz said, adding the company also hired consultants to help with the search for federal grants to help offset some of the costs.
“For every dollar we can get through a grant program, it’s something we can put into patient care or staffing,” he said.
Suhail also plans to have an ethics committee at the hospital to work for the benefit of the community. “It would not work for the benefit of the profit of the hospital,” he said.
He was inspired to create the ethics committee after a situation arose regarding the publicly funded Loretto Hospital in Chicago, with which he did business. Loretto Hospital’s former chief financial officer Dr. Anosh Ahmed reportedly was a close associate of Suhail.
While he did not want to comment on ongoing legal matters, Suhail said that he did “not do anything wrong” in his operating his businesses. “At the end of the day, I don’t own or run Loretto Hospital. I’m an independent contractor and I went in there and offered service lines. So, it’s very unfortunate what unfolded at Loretto, and I can’t speak on the behalf of Loretto because I really don’t own it or run it.”
Suhail said that his business and service lines are operated efficiently, and that he “brought in a lot of service lines into Loretto and benefited Loretto in tremendous ways.”